Privacy experts have reportedly raised concerns about drivers being watched by their cars after it was revealed that Mercedes-Benz tracked customers who defaulted on the company’s payments.
Mercedes-Benz said that new and used cars sold through its UK dealers have location sensors that can show exactly where a vehicle is if a driver falls behind on a finance plan.
The Times reports that the carmaker shares this information with third-party bailiffs and recovery firms that can use the data to repossess vehicles.
James Hodgson, an analyst at ABI Research, which specialises in emerging technology, spoke to The Times and said that most new cars had embedded sensors that could call emergency services, track a car that had been stolen, and alert roadside assistance if a car broke down.
Mr Hodgson added that carmakers were increasingly looking for ways to make money from drivers’ data.
Mercedes reportedly said the technology was only activated when a customer with a lease through Mercedes defaulted and had failed to contact the company.
Mercedes said the sensor was highlighted in all finance agreements and printed on the contract. A spokesman for Daimler, which owns Mercedes, said, “This repossession process is used in a few exceptional cases and only as a last resort when customers default or breach their finance agreement and repeatedly fail requests to return their vehicle. We want to emphasise that this does not mean constant tracking.”